BLOG – Expecting The Unexpected After SCI

November 10, 2016 has nearly 2,000 videos of family members answering real-life questions about how they cope with a spinal cord injury.


Photo courtesy of 180 Medical

One of the questions we routinely ask is “What has been the most unexpected change in your life?” The answers are surprising. One of the unexpected findings we discovered during the hundreds of interviews we videotaped over the years, was that the life changes caused by the injury could ultimately be quite positive. The achievements after their injuries were often greater than they might have been if they were never injured at all. Here’s a sample of some interesting answers:


Life Changes

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-56-11-pmPatricio, injured at age 24 – “I was either going to jail (before injury) or six feet under.”


screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-56-26-pmMichelle, injured at age 21 – “I found a new career!”


Ginger, injured at age 44 “I was forced to examine my values and screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-55-26-pmpriorities.”



screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-56-45-pm Tony, injured at age 27 “I became a father.”



For parents – it can create another beginning

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-58-17-pm Clarissa; son injured at age 19  – “I became interested in disabilities rights.”


Mary; daughter injured at age 22 “Now we have a new kind of normal that is just as comfortable as the old normal was…it took a long time to get there.” screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-58-01-pm



screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-3-58-09-pmCarol Ann; son injured at age 20 “him going to Harvard Business School; that’s been such an experience for the whole family.”



For siblings – the injury can bring jealousy, anger and guilt — but not forever.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-4-00-39-pmJavier; sister injured at age 7 “Growing up, there was more attention coming to her. And when I was younger, I was kind of mad about it. But now…I mean, it happened, and obviously, she’s going to need more attention, more help, and my parents need my help.


screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-4-00-58-pmEunice; sister injured at age 7 “I was the oldest one, I was already 14 and I was about to turn 15. I didn’t understand the gravity of it all until several months passed.”


screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-4-01-04-pmJennifer; brother injured at age 23 “I felt many times that I wish I had done something that night that would have changed the course of his evening. It was the week before Christmas — maybe if I had just called to ask about what some of his holiday plans were, maybe it would have offset the night five minutes or so; that would have changed it.”


And for children with a parent facing a new or established injury…

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-4-16-05-pmElizabeth; father became paraplegic before she was born “My dad being the way he is has given me a direction in my life because I’ve always participated in and been curious to learn about the wheelchair, to ask about the disability.”


screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-4-15-50-pmJennifer; mother injured when she was 14 “I understood it on one level, but it was also very frustrating, I sort of felt like I have all these questions, and I’m a teenager, and I don’t understand, I don’t understand why it’s not about me. It was hard.”


screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-4-15-58-pmSean; mother injured he was in his 20’s “I think a lot of the unknown…I’d never known anyone close, that had that sort of condition.”

Keeping an open mind and keeping up with therapies associated with spinal cord injury can make a huge difference in quality-of-life down the road. Many individuals are happy and living fulfilled lives with all levels of injury.

How has your life or the life of a loved-one changed as a result of paralysis? Feel free to leave your comments and insights.









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